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The application of sustainable behaviour change strategies in three built environment companies

Erik Bichard (Regeneration and Sustainable Development, School of the Built Environment, University of Salford, Salford, UK)

Journal of Engineering, Design and Technology

ISSN: 1726-0531

Article publication date: 27 March 2009

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to describe the effect of methods derived from the study of social psychology to motive better sustainable behaviour in the workforces of built environment companies.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper outlines the multi‐methodological approach used to obtain the conclusions about the use of social psychological techniques. It also describes why case studies were the most appropriate framework for the study, based on the complex nature of both the companies that participated in the research, and the complex nature of sustainable development.

Findings

The study shows that the application of motivational methods based on social psychology are effective in raising awareness of sustainability issues and, in one case, had a marked effect on the future path of the company. Leaders of built environment companies that are interested in improving sustainable performance should study these techniques and, in particular, consider their leadership style and method of message transmission. The juxtaposition of hard evidence about the effects the company is having on the environment and on society, combined with the use of theatre and role play to make this serious message palatable and even enjoyable has a significant effect on the way the messages are received, and the ability to receive positive support from the workforce in the future.

Originality/value

The techniques used in the study are based on an understanding that fact‐based motivation alone is insufficient to create lasting sustainable change. The use of techniques that involve more intuitive or emotional methods is unusual in a predominantly conservative sector, and the application of certain theatre‐based techniques, and Forum Theatre in particular is an original approach. The value of showing the efficacy of these techniques may be to accelerate the adaptation of those built environment organisations that have been slowed to adopt a whole company approach (including employee engagement) to sustainable performance.

Keywords

Citation

Bichard, E. (2009), "The application of sustainable behaviour change strategies in three built environment companies", Journal of Engineering, Design and Technology, Vol. 7 No. 1, pp. 7-20. https://doi.org/10.1108/17260530910947231

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited